It’s a highly collaborative process. I say those words every day when describing how Skeleton Key develops custom business applications. What does that mean exactly? What do we do to foster collaborative teams?
- Acknowledge our customers expertise. You own or run a business. You’ve done well enough to need a custom application. You must know what you’re doing. We need your expertise on the team.
- Ask lots of questions. A good question moves the understanding and process forward. A great question takes everyone’s understanding to an entirely different plane. Everyone says they ask lots of questions, but my five-year-old asks lots of questions and that doesn’t mean he should build a custom application for you. Our years of experience have taught us to ask the good and great questions.
- Listen. Two ears. One mouth. That’s a magic ratio, don’t you think? Asking great questions would be absolutely useless if we didn’t listen to your responses.
- Think critically. We take virtually nothing at face value. Time has taught us to critically evaluate each step of your workflow – not just to better understand how and where you get your data, but to be crystal clear about what you intend do with it once you’ve got it.
- Speak candidly. One of our most valuable roles as consultants is to see what you’re missing and bring it to your attention. We don’t sit idly by with pursed lips waiting to be asked to speak up. We candidly and regularly offer suggestions and recommendations as we go – acting on them is totally up to you.
- Get feedback. At the conclusion of every sales cycle we’re asking for feedback. At each iteration meeting we’re asking for feedback. We informally survey our customers regularly in order to solicit their feedback. We want to improve every aspect of our business and getting our customers feedback is a critical tool in achieving that goal.
- Take action. We change our behavior based on feedback from customers, colleagues, vendors and peers. In an iteration meeting we’ll scrap an entire application module if our customer’s reality has changed. We adopted a more transparent approach to development, in part because our customers asked for more insight into our development practices. Continuous improvement starts with targeted movement.
I’m certain this is an incomplete list but I hope it gives you some ideas about how to foster collaboration and how we partner with customers in a team effort to develop the applications their business needs.